fbpx ;

Essential Strength Training for Runners

Most runners avoid the weight room like the plague. As a coach and runner, I’ve heard (and given) all the excuses. Look, I get it. With all that running it’s tough to find the time to squeeze non-running workouts into the schedule. And besides, to get strong at running all you need to do is run, right? Well … no.

So let’s talk about why you, my fellow runner, should be lifting.

Why Strength Training?

In order to run healthy and strong, you must have a well-balanced and efficient gait. In other words, your gluteus maximus, hip flexors, quadriceps and hamstrings must all do their job well and not be forced to do the job of any other muscles.

In addition to building you a better gait, strength training can help build all the helper muscle groups that keep you running tall, breathing well, and feeling powerful. Your core and gluteus medius have the job of stabilizing your hips, keeping them from shifting side-to-side, which is terrible for your joints, wears you out faster, and can lead to increased post-run muscle soreness. Also, strong arms and shoulders are necessary for a powerful arm swing that will propel you forward and balance out the movement of your legs.

Obviously, if you wanna run strong, you’ve gotta strength train each of these key running muscles so they are strong enough to keep you going. But if you wanna run healthy, you’ve gotta strength train to ensure that each muscle is strong enough to do its own job so that other muscles don’t have to pick up the slack. For example, if your glutes are weak, other muscles may try to do more than they are capable of and ultimately become strained from overload.

When it comes to injuries, the problem isn’t always the sport either. Sure, running is a repetitive motion using the same muscles to perform the same tasks over and over and over, but it’s often our lifestyles that cause the real problems. If you spend an hour a day running and 7 hours sitting in a chair at your desk, odds are your body will adapt more to the sitting than the running. Over time, the muscles and tissues of your body start to weaken and tighten around the shape of how you sit. This creates serious muscular imbalances, which can leave you prone to overuse and injury.

But don’t worry, there’s still hope. This is where a solid, sport-specific strength training plan comes in. It restores balance to your running muscles so you can keep running strong.

8 Essential Moves for Runners

1. Deadlifts. Do it for your booty and hammies, ‘nuf said.

2. Single-Leg Squats. In running, you only ever have one leg on the ground at a time so you might as well squat that way. Squat to a box or do pistols (unassisted or TRX-assisted).

3. Bulgarian Split Squats. Sorta like the staple lunge only better because the weight in the legs is offset. Put your back leg on a bench or in a TRX for bonus stability points.

4. Clam Shells. Trust me, your knees and IT band will thank you.

5. Renegade Rows. Builds upper body strength to help power up those hills and increases your core’s ability to resist rotation, which keeps your back and hips happy.

6. Pull-ups. I know, it seems mean but seriously nothing makes your posture better.

7. Plank. Because your core can never be too stable, and if you’ve already mastered the regular plank, try these and keep your core guessing.

8. Side Plank. Obliques and outer hip support for days. If it’s too easy, try lifting a leg or do them with your forearm on a Bosu or other unstable surface.

I recommend 2-3 strength workouts per week for runners, depending on where you are in your training schedule. To make it more schedule-friendly, you can break it into two separate workouts by doing the odd-numbered moves and even-numbered moves on non-consecutive days as two separate workouts.

Aim for 3 sets of each. As far as number of reps, I suggest mixing it up every 2-3 weeks, alternating between a few weeks of heavier weight/lower reps (using a weight that is challenging to do for 5-8 reps) and a few weeks of lower weight/higher reps (using a weight that is challenging to do for 10-15 reps). It’s a great way to keep your body challenged and break up the monotony.

Ready to hit the gym? —Alison 

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!


  1. Really nice post Alison, Such health related posts are helpful for sports people to keep their body structure in the proper manner, your recommendation would help runners to make their exercise routine.

  2. Thank you for the specific moves for runners. Short of hiring a coach, do you have a recommendation on a resource for making sure I’m doing the moves right. I know proper form is important. I’m halfway through my training for a 10K, so I may be a little late in the game, but better late than never, huh?

  3. Tressie says:

    Physical strengthening not only means a tough workout but it equally means a good and nutritious food that gives strength and energy to perform well. It’s important to gain energy first and then to utilize it for workouts.

  4. Your article is awesome
    Very easy to understand and follow
    I’ve shared it with some of my friends
    Thank you for sharing

  5. Sakira says:

    Wow, a Nice guideline. I think every runner need to read this article. Please continue to write this type of post, that’s can help everyone.

  6. Angela says:

    Your article is very useful for the runners even they should follow this to maintain their physical strength. Now a days It is really necessary to do workout and keep yourself fit. Thank you for this information

  7. Physical activity is always good for your health. Running not only not only maintain body status but also help to refresh the spirit.

  8. Anne says:

    Bookmarking this! This is a great help for me who started doing morning runs. Unfortunately, I get very tired easily. I’m not very good at routines, but this article helped me understand the importance of training. Thank you!

  9. Hi Alison. Thanks for your great content. How can I Pull-ups more effective? 🙂

  10. Sophie says:

    Great exercises for runners. I think that it a great combination of such exercises and cardio

  11. Tasha says:

    Hi Alison, nice list of some serious workouts there. I usually involve myself in most of these. Single leg is one of my favorite one. Thanks a lot for sharing, will also share this with some of my workout buddies.

  12. david sero says:

    that is good tips for gaining strength with work outs.One thing though,some runners avoid workouts because it makes them more tired after running though one can opt for a great massage. I am a runner and am researching great massages in bahrain and your blog too will surely help me.

  13. moana says:

    very true, to strengthen the body, you don’t need only workouts but you need to eat very well, balanced diet for that matter to gain energy for running or any sports. You can go natural with natural supplements or prepare yourself if you have time.

  14. Hi Alison, Thanks for your great content and Nice guideline. I think every runner need to read this article.

  15. In daily life exercise play a vital role. Thanks for sharing these exercises. I am doing some of these exercises in my daily routine.

  16. Great Blog!
    Thanks for sharing the valuable content to help us.
    Squat, Running, Push up and other fitness exercises are really work to stay healthy. Everyone needs to apply in his daily life.

  17. VoIP says:

    Wow, superb weblog layout! How lengthy have you been blogging for? you make running a blog look easy. The total look of your web site is great, let alone the content!

  18. Helpful info. Lucky me I discovered your site by chance, and I’m
    surprised why this coincidence didn’t came about earlier! I bookmarked it.

  19. Jordan says:

    Pullups will definitely help you to increase your strength. Try to do 4 to 5 pullups daily.

  20. gamerz says:

    Everyone should start to do workout on a regular basic to reman fit and fine in the life. Many people do not run and hence need better options like treadmills.

  21. Aman says:

    The blog is really good. Thanks for sharing it.

  22. I started morning excercise and running a few weeks ago. This article helped me a lot. Thank you for sharing.

  23. Rakesh says:

    Keep posting such informative and engaging post!!

  24. “Interesting  information, thanks for making these contributions.
    Great  information Glad to find your article.!This blog is really very informative.
    Thanks for sharing it with us

  25. Really informative and educative article thanks for sharing this informative article.

  26. Its really wonderful post, Thanks for sharing with us.

  27. Subh says:

    Squats and pull ups of the most beneficial gym workouts for anybody.

  28. This is amazing post. Thanks for sharing with us. I was surffing on internet and found this valuable content. I have bookmarked your website to come again and again.

  29. Mike says:

    Thanks for sharing informative post. Due to covid many gyms closed better do workout in home for safety.

  30. Divya Goal says:

    Thanks for sharing

  31. Amazing post shared by you.

Comments are closed.